Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance.
We know that breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer in the forms of mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity, and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue. The risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma increase with the number of fibers inhaled. People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time.
Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release asbestos fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease. Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard.
Most products made today do not contain asbestos. Those few products made which still contain asbestos that could be inhaled are required to be labeled as such. However, until the 1970s, many types of building products and insulation materials used in homes contained asbestos. If you are buying a home that was built before 1978, asbestos could be found in the following forms.
While a home inspector cannot provide a positive visual identification of an asbestos product, they can provide guidance as homeowners determine the best course of action.
One of the most common ways of revealing asbestos in the home is during Home Inspection. While Home Inspectors, or anyone else for that matter, cannot positively identify asbestos from a visual inspection they are trained to know what to look for and when to recommend a qualified asbestos technician to evaluate and advise. If you have any questions please contact Andrew Winnard at Old Line Home Inspections at (410) 236-3027 or click here to schedule an appointment.
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